This region, most often dubbed “the Dominican Alps,” because it’s hugged by the Septentrional and Cordillera Central mountain ranges, is a delightful and surprising departure from the stereotypical image of the DR as a sun, sea, and rum destination. El Cibao, as Dominicans refer to it, is a central, mountainous area, where affluent locals escape from the heat and buzz of Santiago or Santo Domingo. The Cibao, which means "mountain rock" in Taíno, is blessed with the highest mountain in the Caribbean: Pico Duarte, at 10,100 feet above sea level. Intrepid explorers opt to spend two days and a night to reach this crown jewel of the DR. The Cibao region is also made up of rolling tobacco hills, where the world's best cigar leaves are grown and hand rolled to perfection.
Jarabacoa is the most popular base in these parts, a charming mountain town resort with affordable lodging options, an close to waterfalls, hiking and verdant scenery. Over in neighboring Constanza are even fewer tourists but more glorious, rolling farmlands and pine tree scenery and the breadbasket of the Dominican Republic; over 90 percent of the country's vegetables are cultivated and produced there.
Last but not least, it is the birthplace and home to the Mirabal sisters, who were from Salcedo. As I like to say, if you haven't been to the Cibao, the cultural heartland of this country, you haven't been to the Dominican Republic. Squeezing in this side of the country, if only for a day or two, will give you a better view and understanding of this stunning island's incredibly diverse topography and the warmth of its people.
Excerpt from Moon Dominican Republic (Moon Travel Guides, 2016 edition).
The Experience, Where to Stay, and Blog sections will have more excerpts on this region.